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'Take kids to Mountjoy to see pain that drugs cause' - Dubs ace Philly

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Philly McMahon with Sarah Bowes and Rory O’Donnell at the official launch of the new-look Chadwicks store in Sandyford, Dublin. Photo: Jason Clarke

Philly McMahon with Sarah Bowes and Rory O’Donnell at the official launch of the new-look Chadwicks store in Sandyford, Dublin. Photo: Jason Clarke

Philly McMahon with Sarah Bowes and Rory O’Donnell at the official launch of the new-look Chadwicks store in Sandyford, Dublin. Photo: Jason Clarke

Dublin GAA star Philly McMahon has said his native Ballymun has been neglected and the drug epidemic that blighted the area in the 80s has "never gone away".

McMahon told how crack cocaine had now replaced heroin as the drug of choice.

He said actions and not words would help change matters in the place where he was brought up.

McMahon was speaking a little over a week after officials at Setanta GAA club in Ballymun wrote to Drugs Minister Catherine Byrne, saying they were dealing with the ramifications of a tenfold increase in crack cocaine use in the area.

Groomed

The letter said the club "see young people being groomed into dealing on a weekly basis due to the Government's failure to deal with the youth unemployment in our community, while also cutting resources in other areas such as housing, youth development and policing".

A spokesperson for the minister said last week that she had seen the letter online but had not yet received it.

She acknowledged the serious issues raised and anticipated engaging with the club.

McMahon, who lost his own brother to a drugs overdose, said showing young people the pain caused by addiction and arranging school visits to Mountjoy Prison could help the situation.

He said a lack of much- needed amenities and the fact that drug dealing was an "easy earner" for young people was dragging them into a life of crime.

"When it comes to addiction, I think words don't really work," he said. "How many mothers and fathers told their kids not to take drugs, and yet we have one of the highest overdose rates in Europe?

"So I think it's about showing kids the pain family members go through, that addicts go through.

"It's the little things like bringing the school visits into Mountjoy which they don't even do any more.

"I had the pain because of my brother, so I never went on drugs.

"But telling them not to go on drugs hasn't worked and it won't work.

"No matter what I say, I don't think it would ultimately change the kids' choice, but I do think showing would.

"Words don't really work when it comes to this issue.

"In terms of Ballymun, it's just being neglected after the regeneration.

"There was a promise of a shopping centre and more amenities. It's so easy nowadays for kids to sell drugs because it's an easy earner.

Homelessness

"For drug dealers it's an easy way of getting kids to do it because they can't really be incriminated for it.

"It used to be dealt with in the criminal system, but now it's dealt with in the healthcare system."

McMahon said the housing crisis, addiction, mental health issues and homelessness all fed into each other, and fixing one issue would not provide a cure-all.

"For me, it's all interlinked. Homelessness, the housing crisis, drug addiction and mental health - they're all interlinked and you can't really solve one without another one opening up," he said.

McMahon was speaking yesterday at the relaunch of the new-look Chadwicks store in Sandyford. Grafton Merchanting announced details of a store upgrade programme with 12 Chadwicks branches due for completion by the end of 2019.


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